In an effort to make reference to All the President’s Men, episode seven (5/1) of The Newsroom took on the breaking of a news story like nobody’s business. And they did so with gusto at the biggest story of 2011: the killing of Osama Bin Laden. For all of the nobility and patriotism that was flagged as it happened, something was amiss in the episode. Nothing has really matched the events of Gabrielle Gifford shooting, and that is a shame. But it’s not from a lack of trying.
The endless Maggie-Jim-Don love triangle refuses to make any real progress until imaginably the season finale. Alison Pill, John Gallagher Jr. and Thomas Sadoski are all fine in their performances, but there’s one thing that has failed to hold interest within this storyline. And that one thing is Don. Maybe there’s a little something to do with the annoying tendencies of Jim and Maggie, but it’s mainly Don. His arrogance and condescending treatment of Maggie sees the audience wanting him out of the picture quicksmart. Seeing it dragged out, episode after episode just leads to severe boredom. Like Sloane Sabbath (Olivia Munn), Aaron Sorkin does the intellectual storytelling much better than the emotional and personal storylines.
Previous episodes saw some of the women be the subjects to behaviour that was clumsy and seemingly problematic. Well, it was the guys turn this episode with Will (Jeff Daniels) ingesting too much hash cookie. It was a welcome treat to see such stupid (and illegal) behaviour, and actually provided Will with some funnier moments, letting the angry shouting have a rest for the week.
A duelling guitars moment was the peak of strangeness in the episode where Will and Jim were both playing guitar and singing, perhaps giving the actors a chance to showcase their Broadway-style abilities. It felt weird though. Like when you’re actually at a party like that, and it happens, and it’s not so cool, but plain ol’ embarrassing.
As the story broke, and cast members had the opportunity to tell aviation staff and policemen of the killing of Osama Bin Laden, there was an awkward sense of American pride and patriotism. Perhaps an international perspective (especially one that prides itself on not having too much national pride) leads to the awkwardness, but the sentiment still felt forced.
Acting wise, the episode seemed to belong to Sam Waterston as Charlie, who really takes to the Sorkin material without working at break-neck speed. His performance so far in the season is reminiscent of a friendlier Leo McGarry (played by the wonderful John Spencer in The West Wing.) Tackling new stories every week, it is always interesting to see where The Newsroom will take us each week. Though we’re only at episode seven, the show’s lifetime has already jumped a year from when News Night 2.0 began. Now we wonder, where will the next three episodes take us?
The Newsroom airs Monday nights on the SoHo channel. Read more episode reviews of this season.